Modern lifestyle led mental sickness has created an endemic like situation
Mental sickness and suicides are rising sharply in India
Something has gone terribly wrong somewhere. The way we are increasingly encountering cases of mental sickness should seriously make us ponder. No section of society including the rich and mighty is spared from mental sickness. No doubt, the world has become a great place to live in many respects. In fact, we are progressing at lightning speed in this century. Technology is making a huge impact on our education, health, working environment, medicine, lifestyle, entertainment, and traveling. Massive wealth has been generated. We have entered into a fourth industrial revolution, in which technologies and trends are changing the way we live and work. Life has become healthier, wealthier, more comfortable, and easy access to entertainment and pleasurable material. Digital technology is revolutionizing the world in so many ways which we never thought of earlier.
With all this on our command, have we become more satisfied and contented with our lives? Unfortunately, the answer is negative. Many reasons are behind it. Aggression, intolerance, anger, and violence among fellow beings are increasing in most parts of the world. We are, in general, becoming more unhappy, restless, and unsatisfied with our life’s conditions. Humans’ conflicts at various levels are rising. The gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is growing sharply. There are signs of spiritual crisis among the masses. We have ruthlessly destroyed Mother Nature due to our greed. All this is happening because our minds couldn’t keep pace with the overall progress humanity has witnessed. We haven’t been mentally evolved to the extent required. We are, as a result, paying a heavy price. The time has come to look inward and undertake the journey for ‘enlightening our mind’.
As we continue to progress, our workload and emotional pressure started rising. As a result, we have, as a whole, become a highly stressed society. Mental sickness or stress is becoming endemic in the modern world. Many of our life’s situations trigger a stress response in the body, such as unfriendly to hostile working conditions, overload of work, financial difficulties, and relationship problems within one’s family or with a boss or colleagues. Social media is also causing distraction and attention deficit. More and more people, especially from the younger generation are getting obsessed and even addicted to their mobiles.
As the level of mental sickness rises in every section of society, we have also started becoming more unhappy and unsatisfied with our life. Though with the rise of economic prosperity, we should have become happier and more contended. What’s not within our reach to enjoy? However, this didn’t happen. The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. The World Happiness Report 2020 for the first time ranks cities around the world by their subjective well-being and our overall happiness. India has been ranked at a dismal 144 as the United Nations released its World Happiness Report.
Mental stress and unhappiness are both interlinked. Both the conditions arise from our inability to manage our minds and thoughts. Since our early childhood, we have never been taught how to manage our thoughts. In fact, the parents and the education system both contribute to creating psychological stress among the younger generation. They are always under pressure to succeed and start their career, where there is recognition, status, and prestige. We widely believe that being successful in life is far more important than becoming happy. Because with success, comes wealth, material goods, comforts, and status in society.
If we have wealth, we will surely become happy and satisfied in the future, this’s what we think. This is a sign of a materialistic society. People are busy chasing and accumulating wealth. Expectations are increasing, while priorities have to get misplaced. The gap between the expectation and the reality we achieve is widening and that creates the feeling of un-satisfactoriness. The result is that not only mental and psychological stress is growing among a large section of society but also mental health problems i.e. Mental Sickness is escalating sharply. More and more people are becoming restless, unsatisfied, and unhappy with their living conditions.
All over the world including in India, the incidents of mental illnesses or mental sickness are rising remarkably and almost taking the shape of a ‘global epidemic’. Among the most common health disorders are depression and anxiety.
The Lancet, a well-regarded medical Journal published from the UK, published a report titled “The burden of mental disorders across the states in India: “The Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2017” released in February 2020. The study claims that nearly 197 million Indians were suffering from mental disorders, including 45·7 million reported to have depressive disorders, and 44·9 million were suffering from anxiety disorders. It’s believed that today nearly 264 million of the world population suffer from depression. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide.
As per another report by World Health Organisation, 7.5 percent of the Indian population suffers from some form of mental disorder. Mental sickness constitutes one-sixth of all health-related disorders and India accounted for nearly 15% of the global mental neurological and substance abuse disorder burden. The treatment gap which is defined as the prevalence of mental illnesses and the proportion of patients that get treatment is over 70%. WHO predicts that by the end of 2020, roughly 20 percent of India will suffer from mental illnesses?
Primarily, as we can make out from the above, all the mental health problems including mental stress or mental sickness, and the widespread feeling of restlessness and satisfactoriness arise from our mind and we don’t know how to control our thoughts. But surprisingly, it’s not all that difficult to manage our minds. We need to be aware of how our mind works, what are its inherent tendencies and how thoughts can be managed. There is a fast expanding and flourishing industry of wellness, and mindfulness. However, the best way to improve self-awareness and the ability to manage our thoughts is through the practice of mindfulness-based meditation and other relaxation techniques.
People are now realizing that meditation is the best tool to train their minds. Meditation studios, brands, and apps are popping up worldwide. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, meditation is being recognized as one of the three pillars of well-being.
Like the way meditation grows ever more popular, a solid backing of research studies conducted worldwide keeps pace. Otherwise, this practice would not have spread so rapidly. In India, Vipassana meditation, TM, chakra meditation, Raj yoga meditation, and body scan/progressive relaxation are popular techniques of meditation. Today there are more than 4,000 research studies, according to the US National Library of Medicine on the subject. In fact, many studies of the meta-analysis are coming up corroborating the results of various research projects.
Meditation can transform one’s life with far more self-awareness, focused attention, and clarity. Through these attributes, we can live mindfully. With better control over our inner life, we certainly can live life on our own terms. Clarity and control are also the conditions in which a strong sense of compassion and empathy take root, which can give meaning to our life. Studies have established that through meditation, we can become more compassionate and empathetic toward others. We understand their feelings and point of view with greater clarity and understanding.
What’s required now is the mass movement to adopt the practice of meditation as a way of life. It should be assigned at par with popular physical exercises like walking. We need to introduce the subject of happiness in the school itself as the State of Delhi has rightly and wisely introduced this subject in government-run schools. All the students must be taught this technique along with its scientific reasoning so that their mindset is tuned to the prevailing worldly environment. We need another revolution to enlighten ourselves so that we can live peacefully and in harmony with nature and get connected with our inner self.
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